Dr. Gowans’ education and career paths in Medical Biotechnology, developmental biology as well as human genetics and genomics have endowed him with the requisite expertise and experience in human genetics and genomics. His BSc degree was in Biological Sciences at KNUST. During his PhD studies (which was a collaborative training between KNUST and the University of Iowa, USA), he majored in genetics, genomics and developmental biology, with a focus on Craniofacial and Dental Anomalies Research. His research on the genetics and genomics of orofacial clefts was/is the first to be conducted among Ghanaians. He has been collaborating with Scientists from University of Lagos (Nigeria), Addis Ababa University (Ethiopia), University of Washington (UW)/Seattle Children’s Research Institute (SCRI) and The University of Iowa (USA) under the African Craniofacial Anomalies Research Network (AfriCRAN) and other initiatives to conduct cutting-edge research on orofacial clefts and other craniofacial birth defects. His group’s research activities have resulted in a number of publications that have widely been touted as the most extensive and successful genomics studies on orofacial clefts among Africans. He has also been conducting research on dental anomalies, such as microdontia, taurodontism, dens-in-dente, etc. He recently added craniosynostosis to the repertoire of diseases on his dental and craniofacial anomalies research. Dr. Gowans thus directs and heads the Cleft-Craniofacial Genetics and Genomics Research Team at KNUST.
In a nutshell, Dr. Gowans employs phenomics, exposomics, genome sequencing technologies, genetic engineering, cell lines, animal models (zebrafish) and bioinformatic tools to study structural birth defects. He has cutting-edge publications on dental and craniofacial anomalies research and his group is credited for frontiering such research among Africans. His group carried out the first ever genome-wide association studies (GWAS) and whole genome sequencing (WGS) projects on orofacial clefts cohorts from Africa. Dr. Gowans once served as a Senior Research Fellow (postdoctoral) on an H3Africa Bioinformatics Training and Education Node project, called WASLITBRe, at KNUST, as well as a Consultant on an H3ABioNet Bioinformatics project at KCCR, KNUST. He is a member of several professional societies in dentistry/oral health sciences, genetics, genomics, developmental biology and science in general. As a member of the Ghana Cleft Foundation, Dr. Gowans serves as the Geneticist and Genetic Counselor in the Cleft-Craniofacial Team at Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH), Kumasi. He is also a Visiting Research Scholar to the Craniofacial Anomalies Research Center (College of Medicine) and Iowa Institute for Oral Health Research (College of Dentistry), The University of Iowa, Iowa City, USA.
Dr. Gowans believes that the African genome, being the ancestral and oldest human genome with shorter haplotype blocks, when juxtaposed with the genome of other human ancestries could map and refine genetic pathways and variants that could impact positively on the aetiology, care and prevention of congenital disorders. Dr. Gowans also acquired a professional certification in genetics and genomics from Stanford University, Stanford, California, USA. In addition, he has attended and presented at several international conferences and workshops, including McKusick Short Course in Human and Mammalian Genetics and Genomics at Jackson Laboratory, USA, American Society of Human Genetics, H3Africa Consortium, American and International Association for Dental Research, etc.
Dr. Gowans is a well-funded researcher, having obtained several subawards from the University of Iowa, USA, as well as serving as Co-Investigator (Co-I) and Principal Investigator (PI) on a number of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded projects. He is currently the PI on the following NIH grants:
- August 2020 – April 2022: Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, R21 Award. Grant number: R21TW011729, Project Title: Molecular Genetic Etiology of Craniosynostosis among Ghanaians (MoGECaG).
- September 2019 - June 2024: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) and Fogarty International Center (FIC) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, Emerging Global Leader Award. Grant number: K43DE029427, Project Title: Elucidating Cleft Etiology Employing Multiplex and Twin Families (ElCEEMuTF).
Dr. Gowans is also a Co-I on the following NIH research grants:
- August 2020 – June 2021: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, Administrative Supplement for R01 Award. Grant number: 3 R01 DE028300, Project Title: Orofacial Clefts, Whole Genome Sequencing and Incidental Findings: Ethical Considerations. Principal Investigators (PIs): Azeez Butali, Murray and Prince, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA.
- February 2020 – January 2025: National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USA, R01 Award. Grant number: 1R01DE028300, Project Title: Refining the Genetic and Genomic Architecture of Non-syndromic Orofacial Clefts. Principal Investigator (PI): Azeez Butali, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA.
- July 2017 – June 2022: National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)/NIH Gabriella Miller Kids First X01 HL140516-01, Whole Genome Sequencing of African and Asian Orofacial Clefts Case-Parent Triads. Principal Investigator (PI): Azeez Butali, University of Iowa, Iowa, USA.